Counting the Pacers out in Game 7 just because they are on the road? Bad move.
By Sam Gardner FoxSports
Despite pushing LeBron James and the Miami Heat to the brink in these Eastern Conference finals, the Indiana Pacers aren’t getting much respect from the masses, and many expect the defending champs to finish off the plucky underdogs in Game 7 Monday night in Miami.
It makes sense. The Heat are supremely talented, and when firing on all cylinders can look unbeatable (even if they haven’t yet in this series). And it’s hard to fathom that Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, hurt or not, will continue to be such non-factors when they’re on the floor. Plus, the Heat are playing at home, where they are 43-6 this season.
But if recent history means anything, the Pacers have a chance.
In fact, one might say they have a good chance. All time, Miami is just 3-3 in Game 7s, and since 1995, 12 teams have gone on the road to win a Game 7 in the playoffs — including two instances of the Pacers doing it (1995 and 2005) and two instances of the Heat losing a Game 7 despite having the home crowd behind them (2000 and 2005).
Granted, home teams have also won 31 Game 7s in that span, but even so, the odds are hardly overwhelming. So before the Heat and Pacers tip off tonight (8:30 p.m. ET), let’s take a look back at the past 12 teams to win a playoff Game 7 on the road:
Details: After trailing the No. 2 seed Suns 3-1 in the series, the No. 6 seed Rockets rallied for three straight victories to advance to the Western Conference finals. The clincher came in Phoenix on Mario Elie’s “Kiss of Death” 3-pointer with 7.1 seconds left to give Houston a 115-114 win. They would go on to defeat San Antonio in the conference finals and sweep Orlando in the NBA Finals for the franchise’s second consecutive championship.
Date: May 21, 1995 Round: Eastern Conference semifinals Location: Madison Square Garden Winner: Indiana Pacers over New York Knicks
Details: One day after Mario Elie ended the Suns’ season, the Pacers knocked off the No. 3 seed Knicks with a 97-95 win at the basketball Mecca. Patrick Ewing scored 29 points and had 14 rebounds for New York in the loss, but it would be the two points he didn’t score — on a last-second finger roll that bounced off the back iron — that everyone remembered from that devastating home loss. (If there was any consolation for Knicks fans, it was that the Pacers lost to the Magic in the conference finals.)
Date: May 21, 2000 Round: Eastern Conference semifinals Location: American Airlines Arena Winner: New York Knicks over Miami Heat
Details: Five years to the day after missing a layup to cost the Knicks a home Game 7 against the Pacers, Patrick Ewing redeemed himself on the road with a game-winning dunk with 1:20 left in New York’s 83-82 win over Miami. But the finish wasn’t without controversy. Latrell Sprewell grabbed a rebound after Clarence Weatherspoon's 12-footer missed and was awarded a timeout as he fell out of bounds with 2.1 seconds left. But replays later showed — and Sprewell confirmed — that no timeout was called.
Details: Led by the tandem of Shaquille O’Neal (35 points, 13 rebounds, four blocks) and Kobe Bryant (30 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists) the Lakers advanced to — and would later win — their third consecutive NBA Finals with a 112-106 overtime victory over top-seeded Sacramento. After Mike Bibby’s two free throws sent the game to overtime, O’Neal and Derek Fisher combined for 10 points in OT. But the series is best remembered, of course, for Robert Horry’s buzzer beater in Game 4 in L.A. Without that heartbreaker, this series never reaches seven games.
Date: May 7, 2005 Round: Eastern Conference first round Location: TD Banknorth Garden Winner: Indiana Pacers over Boston Celtics
Details: After missing out on a chance to close the series at home, the No. 6 seed Pacers — between that and the 1995 game, they have some history with this kind of thing — headed to Boston, where they destroyed the No. 3 seed Celtics in front of their home crowd, 97-70. Stephen Jackson led the way with 24 points for Indiana, Jermaine O’Neal added 15 points, seven rebounds and six assists, and Fred Jones hit all four of his 3-point tries off the bench. And to this day, the 27-point margin represents the second-most lopsided home loss in Celtics playoff history.
Date: June 6, 2005 Round: Eastern Conference finals Location: American Airlines Arena Winner: Detroit Pistons over Miami Heat
Details: More good news for this year’s Pacers: American Airlines Arena has not exactly been a safe haven for the Heat in Game 7s over the years. In addition to that 2000 loss to the Knicks, Miami also lost 88-82 to the Pistons at home with a trip to the NBA Finals on the line — the win coming days after being blown out in a chance to close out on the road. (Sound familiar?) After shooting 49.1 percent from the floor in the first three quarters, Miami shot 35.7 percent in the fourth quarter of Game 7 and saw a six-point lead evaporate as the Pistons moved on.
Details: Only twice in NBA history has a road team won Game 7 in overtime. The first one was the Lakers-Kings series in 2002, and the other was this one, with the Mavs advancing to the conference finals with a 119-111 OT win over Tim Duncan and the defending champion Spurs. Dallas had already blown a 3-1 series lead to get to Game 7, and then almost blew Game 7 itself, giving up a 14-point halftime edge as Duncan and Manu Ginobili combined for 43 second-half points. But five different players scored for the Mavs in overtime and the Spurs shot just 2-of-10 from the floor as Dallas advanced in front of San Antonio’s home crowd.
Date: May 5, 2007 Round: Western Conference first round Location: Toyota Center Winner: Utah Jazz over Houston Rockets
Details: The home team won the first six games in this tightly contested series between the Jazz and Rockets, but Carlos Boozer erupted for 35 points and 14 rebounds, and Deron Williams added 20 points and 14 assists as Utah moved on with a 103-99 win. Tracy McGrady had 29 points and 13 assists for the Rockets but failed, yet again, to win a playoff series. Fortunately for McGrady, he’s in the Finals this year as a reserve with the Spurs. This game was also the final game of Jeff Van Gundy’s coaching career (for now, anyway).
Date: May 19, 2008 Round: Western Conference semifinals Location: New Orleans Arena Winner: San Antonio Spurs over New Orleans Hornets
Details: There was a time when the New Orleans Hornets didn’t stink, and, in fact, they were the No. 2 seed in the West during the 2008 playoffs. But neither that nor home-court advantage helped them in a 91-82 loss to the Spurs in Game 7 of the 2008 second round. Led by Chris Paul, David West and Tyson Chandler, the Hornets had won their previous three home games in the series by an average of nearly 20 points per game, but San Antonio led Game 7 by nine points at the half and by 15 after three quarters. New Orleans made things interesting, cutting the lead to 83-80 on Jannero Pargo’s 3-pointer with 1:35 left, but Pargo missed on a potential game-tying 3 on the next possession, and the Hornets would never pull closer.
Date: May 17, 2009 Round: Eastern Conference semifinals Location: TD Banknorth Garden Winner:Orlando Magic over Boston Celtics
Details: The defending champ Celtics had never lost a playoff series after leading 3-2 until Dwight Howard and the Magic overcame a 3-2 deficit in 2009, capping things off with a 101-82 blowout in Boston in Game 7. Boston, which was without big man Kevin Garnett, played close through three quarters and trailed 66-61 heading into the fourth, but Orlando scored 35 fourth-quarter points on 10-of-15 shooting and Hedo Turkoglu scored 10 of his game-high 25 points to turn the contest into a rout. The Celtics would get redemption the following year, though, ousting Orlando in six games in the conference finals, closing the Magic out at home.
Date: May 13, 2012 Round: Western Conference first round Location: FedEx Forum Winner:Los Angeles Clippers over Memphis Grizzlies
Details: The Clippers bench took center stage in this Game 7, outscoring the Grizzlies’ reserves 41-11 on a combined 15-of-30 shooting in L.A.’s 82-72 road victory. Memphis actually led by one heading into the fourth, but Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro rode his reserves for most of the final quarter — starters Caron Butler, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Randy Foye played a combined 3:50 in the frame — and Memphis (4-of-18) couldn’t buy a bucket. However, that wasn’t even Memphis’ worst home collapse of the series. That came in Game 1, when the Grizzlies gave up a 27-point lead over the final 14:12 of the game.
Date: May 4, 2013 Round: Eastern Conference First Round Location: Barclays Center Winner:Chicago Bulls over Brooklyn Nets
Details: The Nets’ first season in Brooklyn did not end happily, as the dinged-up Chicago Bulls marched into Barclays Center and claimed a 99-93 win in Game 7 to advance to the second round. The game was mostly uncompetitive early, with Chicago taking a 17-point lead into the half. Brooklyn pulled to within four of the lead in the third quarter, and again cut it to four on Deron Williams’ 3-pointer with 26 seconds left, but it was too little too late for the new kid on the block in New York City. The game was also the only other Game 7 in the 2013 playoffs before Monday night’s matchup between the Heat and Pacers.